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In The Great Gatsby, please compare and contrast Tom and Jordan, explaining how she...

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lizfrank | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 27, 2009 at 8:11 AM via web

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In The Great Gatsby, please compare and contrast Tom and Jordan, explaining how she acts as his foil. 

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 27, 2009 at 8:44 AM (Answer #1)

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As Tom's literary foil, Jordan shares some significant personal characteristics with him. Like Tom, Jordan is independently wealthy, arrogant, cynical, strong willed, dishonest, self-centered, amoral, and promiscuous. Also like Tom, Jordan does what she wants to, when she wants to, giving no thought to others. Neither she nor Tom cares at all what anyone else might think of them or their actions. Interestingly, they both cheat; Jordan cheats at golf, and Tom cheats in his marriage.

Through Jordan Fitzgerald emphasizes Tom Buchanan's hypocrisy. When Nick first meets Jordan at Tom and Daisy's home, he learns that she is spending the summer in New York, by herself. She is on her own, without "family" to supervise her activities. Tom, the serial adulterer, takes moral exception to this situation:

She's a nice girl . . . They [her family] oughtn't to let her run around the country this way.

Jordan's social behavior also highlights Tom's priggish social snobbery. Tom sees Gatsby as being gauche to the point of being laughable with his pink suit and "circus wagon" car. Jordan is as socially prominent as Tom, but she finds Gatsby fascinating. After spending an hour alone with Gatsby at one of his parties, Jordan emerges from his library to tell Nick her time with Gatsby was "simply amazing," and she has sworn to protect his privacy. 

Jordan mirrors Tom in numerous ways, but she also serves to reflect clearly several of his most disgusting personal characteristics.

 

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